Police escort hundreds of 'abandoned' TUI passengers off plane on Manchester airport runway

Police escorted hundreds of "abandoned" TUI passengers off a plane that was stuck on the runway for three hours at Manchester Airport.

The TOM2106 to Tenerife on Sunday, 29 May, was hit by an initial delay, before hundreds of families were then stuck on board for hours due to a staff shortage.

It comes as the holiday firm cancelled a quarter of its operations out of Manchester Airport.

The announcement affects nearly 200 flights and came into force on 31 May and will last until Thursday 30 June.

The government has said travel companies should have been more prepared ahead of the surge in holiday demand following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Hundreds of families were stuck on board for more than three hours until police escorted them off the plane. Credit: MEN Media

Adam Wyczalkowski, 22, said he was was stuck with four friends until 10pm on the flight to Tenerife when police arrived to help disembark the aircraft after passengers had become disruptive.

Speaking from the chaotic plane, Adam said: "The flight was meant to leave at 5.50pm, but we were late getting on board in the first place which was around 7pm.

"We were told the bags would need to be loaded by Swissport, but then we heard they had only half loaded them onto the aircraft.

"We were then told all the staff had then disappeared, and the captain told us all that due to crew hour regulations, the flight might get cancelled in the end.

"Eventually they made another announcement that there had been no communication about us getting off the plane because there were no staff available to let us off.

"There are so many kids on here and families excited go away for half-term.

"People are just getting so frustrated and angry. It is so hot and there is no air con on and we were only offered a complimentary drink.

"There was not a single member of staff in sight, so the captain informed us they will be calling the police in order to let us disembark."

TUI since confirmed that the flight had been delayed due to 'operational issues'. All customers were given an hotel overnight stay and given a new departure time.

Tui are now the only airline operating from DSA after Wizz Air pulled out earlier this year Credit: PA Images

A TUI spokesperson said: "We’d like to apologise to customers travelling on flight TOM2106 from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday 30 May which was unfortunately delayed due to operational issues.

"We were in contact with affected customers, offered overnight accommodation and meals where needed, and advised them of their new departure time as soon as we could. This flight is now due to depart this evening.

"The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different.

"We’d like to apologise again for the inconvenience caused and we thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.”

In response, a Swissport spokesperson apologised for their 'part in any delays' and added that the rise in flight volumes following the pandemic was 'exacerbating resource challenges' across the industry.

A statement said: "While the return in flight volumes after the serious impact of the pandemic is undoubtedly a positive development, it is also exacerbating resource challenges across the aviation industry, including at Swissport, especially at a busy period of holiday travel.

"We are very sorry for our part in any delays and disruption passengers have experienced."

Manchester Airport Group (MAG) released an updated statement on Tuesday afternoon, adding that after 'extensive discussions' with TUI and Swissport 'it is clear they are experiencing temporary staffing shortages'.